There's a moment in an oldish film - I think it's Mad Dog and Glory but I wouldn't bet on it - where a guy is taking a photo of a New York street in the dead of night and a deer turns up. I can't remember the guy's reaction - I think it's De Niro but I wouldn't bet on it - and I can't remember how it fits into the plot. Yet I remember, even as it happened, realising that it was too much, too good, too brilliant and clear and luxurious a moment for the rest of the film to ever recover from. It was a birthday cake dropped in the footwell of a car. A city street at night and here's this deer, this ghost of the wild. There's an unforced surrealism to it, the same surrealism I felt a few years back bussing through Hove at midday on a Sunday - it is always Sunday in Hove - when I spotted a fox standing insouciantly outside a mobile phone shop as if pondering a trip to Nero's.
Games used to be such hostile places. Dropped behind enemy lines or sneaking through monster-infested caverns, everyone you'd meet on your journey seemed to want to kill you. Over the last ten years or so, there's been a gentle rebalancing, however. From Pey'j to Yorda to Alyx Vance, designers have started giving you friends as well as enemies.
"It was probably all a terrible mistake..."
Enslaved isn't my favourite game of 2010. It isn't the title I spent the most time playing. It doesn't even fit within the central themes which ran through my gaming year: dancing, farming, waggling, waving and platforming like it's 1994.
Ninja Theory's Tameem Antoniades will be presenting Enslaved to the Eurogamer Expo 2010 audience on Sunday, 3rd October at 1pm, and for Antoniades his task is a challenging one: convince buyers to take a risk on a new IP at the busiest time of year. Thankfully, he's got quality on his side, not to mention Andy Serkis and Alex Garland: top-tier Hollywood talent that helped build Enslaved from bottom to top. What's more, he's got an exciting session planned where he'll offer a rare glimpse behind the scenes at footage that would otherwise be condemned to the vaults.
Ninja Theory's first game, Heavenly Sword, made headlines for a few reasons: it was PS3 exclusive, looked good, starred latex-lips Andy Serkis and ever so nearly smashed the proverbial ball out of the park. Ninja Theory's next game, Enslaved, isn't a PS3 exclusive but multiplatform, heading to Xbox 360 as well. Enslaved does, however, have Andy Serkis, plus the temperamental talent of big-bucks novelist Alex Garland, best known for The Beach - book and screenplay.
Time was that Monkey was my hero. Born from an egg, on a mountain top, the funkiest monkey who ever popped.
Tameem Antoniades, Ninja Theory's chief creative ninja - that's according to the business card - looks like he's been yanked back in time from some promising point in the dim future where videogame designers exist in the same social troposphere as Hollywood actors and hip-hop personalities. His face has something of a young Bill Murray's charming cragginess to it, which blends well with the fact that he appears to have borrowed Johnny Cash's hair for the day.
Enslaved may be published by Namco Bandai rather than Sony, and may be on Xbox 360 as well as PlayStation 3, but Ninja Theory's latest still has a lot in common with its PS3 exclusive, Heavenly Sword - Gollum Serkis is returning to wax lyrical in his own inimitable, rubber-faced way, and there's the familiar promise of a vast, cinematic story brought to life by a convincing cast of characters. One of the lead characters, Trip, also bears a striking resemblance to Nariko.